A record 1.2 million people lost their jobs across the 16 euro countries in the first three months of the year as companies cut back severely to survive the recession, official EU data showed on Monday.
The figure, up sharply from 526,000 in the last quarter of 2008, marked the biggest jump in lost jobs on records at the Eurostat data agency going back to 1995.
It also marked the third quarter running in which more jobs were lost across the eurozone than were created, the seasonally adjusted data indicated.
"Extended and deep economic contraction, depressed business confidence and deteriorating profitability increasingly fed through to reduce jobs," said IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer.
"Furthermore, latest data and survey evidence point to serious weakness in eurozone labour markets in the second quarter," he added.
In another record surge in job losses, some 1.9 million people lost their jobs across the 27-nation European Union in the first quarter, up from 690,000 in the final three months of 2008.
"We expect the first quarter to be the weak point for employment growth this year, but expect further quarterly contractions though the end of 2010," said Barclays Capital economist Kerri Maddock